As seen in Holiday Shop 2022.
The pandemic brought families together, creating a space for bonding opportunities, such as playing games and puzzles. The ripple effects of that time spent with family mean that more people are realizing the benefits of turning off screens and interacting with each other.
“Puzzles and games are great family bonding activities as they can be cross-generational and all inclusive,” said Kelli Melzer, marketing director, The LANG Companies, a division of Design Group Americas.
Trudi Bartow, director of sales and marketing at the Unemployed Philosophers Guild, agreed. “Building something together is exciting; it’s an adrenaline rush, a race to the finish. To do that with other people brings you closer; it’s that shared experience,” she said.
For these reasons, games and puzzles will continue to be hot sellers for the holiday season; perhaps the importance of games and puzzles will be elevated further, as people celebrate the ability to gather once again.
The Unemployed Philosophers Guild produces a variety of literary puzzles with lines from Jane Austen novels. It has turned puzzles on its head with its double sided Age of the Dinosaurs Puzzle—on one side are images of dinosaurs, and the other side is a replica of dinosaur skeletons as they are exhibited in museums.
Another great game that never goes out of style is dominoes. In fact, Luxe Dominoes has made dominoes even more stylish with its collection of brightly colored, acrylic domino boxes. The dominon sets and boxes are available with racks (El Catire) or without racks (El Tigre). Owner/ Founder Jonathan Cohen grew up playing dominoes, learning from his father and grandfather, so he knows firsthand how important family game time can be.
The boxes are actually a single piece of acrylic that, through a special process, is made to look like glass, giving the pieces more brilliance and refraction between the angles. “If the game is out, you’re more likely to play it. It’s about making something that is nice to display but will be played; that is a big part of our design process,” he said.
Other bestsellers at Luxe Dominoes are El Rumi (a Latin name for their version of a rummy tile game); a Mexican Train game; and Mah Jongg. The company also just came out with their own version of Wordle entitled El Wordle.
The LANG Companies produces puzzles in several piece counts that are “…. finished with elegant linen-embossed paper and feature beautiful artwork by LANG’s popular artists. We also have a 1000 piece puzzle format that features a premium cotton blend paper and foil accents within our Artisan by LANG Brand, and a kids’ version of our 300 piece puzzles that features fun artwork and glitter or foil embellishments for added detail,” said Melzer.
The company’s largest holiday collection of puzzles are Christmas themes featuring both traditional and contemporary artwork. One new release is the Puzzle Countdown series, which contains 12 boxes, holding 42 pieces each, that is meant to be put together each day on the 12 days before Christmas. When completed, it forms a larger, whole puzzle.
Chantelle Schneider, director of product development for DEMDACO, also pointed to Jingle Bell Joy as a new game that will be introduced this year. “It’s a bag full of jingle bells. The goal is to leave the bells for Santa; holiday ‘elves’ hide a jingle bell all around the house,” she said. “It’s fun for children and sparks that together time for the holidays.”
Another holiday game by DEMADCO is Old St. Knickers; the idea is to put on a pair of oversized ‘Santa Pants’ and have players throw oversized inflatable balls into Santa’s pants.
Outside lawn games also bring people together during summer holidays. DEMDACO, whose company motto is “We Strive to Lift the Spirits,” offers a line called Together Time in its Everyday Collection. These include dice games, including one called Family Activity Dice Set; three large dice can be rolled outdoors (or indoors), and they prompt silly activities. Another is called Past, Present, Future Dice Set, and these inspire family conversations from the topics on the dice.
The beauty of both puzzles and games is that they can be used over and over again to create long-lasting family memories during the holiday season and throughout the entire year.